bugout food

How to pack your bugout food
Packing energy, protein, vitamins, nutrients and morale

Be selective in picking foods for your bugout bag. Careful
planning of your bugout food is important as you will have to
balance goals of weight efficiency with goals of energy and
morale, nutrition and dietary needs, as well as personal taste.

The individual components of your bugout food should:
  1. Be lightweight and small enough to fit in pockets.
  2. Have sufficient calories to last you several days.
  3. Be able to withstand friction in your bugout bag.
  4. Support your nutrition goals whether you're diabetic,
    gluten intolerant, allergic or just a picky eater.
  5. Be shelf-stable, and easy to prepare.
  6. Include food that doesn't require cooking at all.
  7. Provide familiar comfort in crisis (and possibly even boost
  8. Include caffeine and instant energy components.

Consult with experts:
In selecting food for your bugout bag, you need to think like
experts in bugging out and handling crisis.

When considering bugout food, preppers must think like:

  • A backpacker - a backpacker is an expert at bugging out
    in the wilderness in packing light. Backpackers choose
    specially compacted food, such as Mountain House Pro-
    Pack, for altitudes, which means this vacuum sealed and
    compact pouch won't expand at high elevations.

  • A soldier - an experts at bugging out into crisis
    situations, soldier's often modify their military rations
    (MREs) to make their packs as light as possible.

  • The Red Cross - the Red Cross are experts at dealing
    with catastrophe. Their team of consultants put together
    this bugout bag:

The Red Cross bugout bag above is mostly food. It contains
two weeks of food for one adult, three meals per day (3 meals
per day 460 calories each). Packed in mylar pouches to
guarantee freshness, the meals are either ready-to-eat or
require only water to prepare, and have a shelf-life of 7-10
years. The bugout bag also has enough room to include a
cooking tin, a water bottle and filter, a first aid kit reusable
heat source, as well as an emergency all-in-one tool, a
flashlight/radio combo, and waterproof matches.

How to Pack Food in your Bugout Bag
What food will you pack in your bugout bag? Individual tastes
and needs vary and you can't take it all. Here are some ideas
as a starting point to help in your selection and planning...

Main courses:
Be sure to pack familiar foods that closely resemble a meal
you'd prepare at home or that you've tried and enjoyed:
  1. Bannock bread mix
  2. Bison bars - a grain-free kind of pemmican bar made of
    meat, fruit, sugar and spices
  3. Dehydrated food pouches, such as Harmony House Foods,
    pictured right.
  4. Freeze dried chicken - you can eat freeze dried chicken
    straight from the bag!
  5. Freeze dried food pouches, such s Mountain House, or
    Backpacker's Pantry, pictured left. The Mountain House
    bucket includes large portion meals that you can take out
    of the bucket for your bugout bag; however the more
    condensed bags for backpacking are
  6. Food bars (not ration bars).
  7. Ramen noodles - use a food saver to repackage and make
    the meal your own with dehydrated veggies
  8. Muesli or oatmeal - make your own mixes and package
    them in a food saver.
  9. OvaEasy dry egg mix
  10. Pemmican bars - available with or without meat these are
    bars made with grain, fruit, nuts and fat (tallow) and are
    loaded with 8 essential amino acids.
  11. Shelf-stable Indian food. Ready-to-eat Indian meals are
    easy to find and you can add them to rice.
  12. Solider Fuel energy bars “pack a wallop of balanced
    nutrition and taste good too” (Popular Science magazine).
    This bar, pictured right, is featured in the official U.S.
    Special Operations Forces Nutrition Guide.
  13. Tanka bar - a pemmican bar traditonally made with
    cranberries and buffalo in the Lakota tradition.
  14. Tuna, salmon, (instead of a canned products, try pouches).

MREs are bulky, but they were designed for soldiers and are
worth considering for the bugout bag as you can take them
apart and stash individual components. This is what soldier's
do. Why lug around the instant creamer packet if you're going
to dumpt it anyway? It's an extra load.

Drink mixes
Drink mixes are very compact and provide a morale boost
along with a bit of nourishment. Here are some ideas to make
the water more palatable:
  1. Bouillon cubes
  2. Coffee packets, suchas Starbucks, pictured right.
  3. Elecrolyte replacement drink mixes (Eco Drink,
    REcoverORS, Nuun, or Pedialyte electrolyte packets, all
    pictured right)
  4. Emergen-C vitamin drink mixes
  5. Hot chocolate
  6. Meal replacement drink mixes, such as Carnation Instant
    Breakfast packets, or Meal Replacement Shake, pictured
  7. Tea bags - tea bags have survival uses
  8. TrueLemon crystallized lemon for an easy dose of Vitamin
    C (Mix it with sugar or use it alone to make bad tasting
    water more palatable)

Be sure to include Potable Aqua as a backup water purifying

Light meals and snacks
  1. Beef jerky
  2. Dried fruit
  3. Energy gels - GU Original Sports Nutrition Energy Gel
  4. Energy bars, such as Cliff bars, Millennium Energy Bars
  5. Food bars  such as Soldier Fuel bas (not ration bars)
  6. GORP -- while the acronym means "Good Old Raisins and
    Peanuts" yours can be a mix of your favorite dried fruits
    and nuts, and you can add M&Ms
  7. Instant soup (like Miso soup, or Chicken noodle packets)
  8. Quick cook beans and rice
  9. Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, peanuts, pumpkin
    seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios
  10. Millennium Energy bars
  11. Nut butter pouches, such as Justin's pouches, pictured
  12. Oatmeal
  13. Pemmican-style bars, Bison Bars, Pemmican bars or Tanka
    bars (mentioned above)
  14. Pilot crackers or biscuits (use a food saver for portions to
    match your jams, jelly or nut butters)s
  15. Slim Jims or dried meat sausages

Dessert plays a surprising roll in a mental escape -- escape
from the reality of the disaster at hand, escape from
discomfort of the journey, and of leaving the comfort of your
own home. At minimum your bugout bag food should include
hardcandies, caramels or toffee. These items are standard fare
in ration kits of military personnel worldwide. A bonus is if you
can find a lozenge with Vitamin C!
  1. Caramels or toffee
  2. Chocolate -- M&Ms
  3. Cliff bars
  4. Dried fruit, such as raisins, dried cranberries, candied fruit,
  5. Hard candies, such as emon drops, butterscotch, lifesavers
  6. Halva bars- these are sesame bars, high in calcium and

Condiments and extras
  1. Bouillon cubes
  2. Dehydrated food pouches, such as Harmony House Foods
  3. Dried fruit
  4. Energy gels - GU Original Sports Nutrition Energy Gel
  5. Jam or jelly pouches
  6. Hard candies (lemon drops, butterscotch, lifesavers) or
    sweets with Vitamin
  7. mini Tabasco sauces
  8. Nut butter pouches, such as Justins
  9. Packets of sugar and salt
  10. The Survival Tabs
  11. Vitamin tablets

Optional items to include
  • chewing gum
  • disinfect wipes
  • matches
  • military can opener (top of the page) if you have cans
  • toothpicks (think alternate uses such as tinder or as a
    tool to get out a splinter)
  • Tissues or toilet wipes
  • water purification tablets

Your bugout bag holds within its zippered compartments
several contingencies to handle whatever comes your way.
With the contents you should be able to secure shelter, fire,
more food and water.

Packing for a family?
You can distribute weight of the gear by having the kids carry
a family meal. For example, Mountain House buckets offer the
convenience of larger sized bags, which you can share.
Mountain House buckets have 12-16 bags of food, depending
on the variety, each with ample portions to share with a small
child (around 29 servings and enough for 3.5 days for a large
and hungry individual.

Mountain House buckets are hearty and delicious complete
meals. Other bucket foods may include drinks and rice
packages to beef up their calorie count, deceiving you, but
Mountain House was designed with backpackers in mind.

What NOT to include in your bugout bag
There are many survival foods you could include in your bugout
bag, but there's something you should
never bug out with and
that's ration bars! Unless you have a pack mule, don't do it.
They are just too heavy and bulky.

True that ration bars are a high calorie food that's compact for
bug out bag, but ration bars are like bricks! They don't have
the energy you need to get you through an emergency on
when you're on the go. They were invented for victims of
boating accidents where energy expended is minimal.

One S.O.S. 3600 ration bar brick has 9 servings that have total
calories count of 3600. That's 400 calories a meal or 1200
calories a day for three days and you're essentially eating
sugar, flour and shortening (those are the first three
ingredient). If you had 9 Mountain House beef stew meals,
you'd get 1395 calories and it would weigh 2.5 pounds. You'd
get real food (potatoes, beef and carrots).

When you think of food in your bugout bag, you need to think
either like a backpacker or a soldier. Hikers are experts at
bugging out. They'd never bring a ration bar. The military
doesn't include ration bars in their gear either. They have
teams of scientists carefully planning meals.

So what are ration bars good for? Ration bars are great food
for your car because they withstand heat!
Read our review of
ration bars.

Food in Bear Country
If you're prepping for bug out in bear country, you'll need a
bear bag or box:

  • Bear bags. Basecamp Odor-barrier bags form a 100%
    odor barrier that will keep bears and other critters, such
    as raccoons or yellow jackets from getting into your food.
    Basecamp Odor-Barrier bags, pictured immediate right,
    are biodegradable and free of harsh chemicals and

  • Bear box: National parks usually require a bear box,
    pictured left, and for good reason. It would be much
    easier to tie you food up to a tree, but the National Park
    Service rangers are the experts and know that bears have
    figured a way around your obstacle. Your food will have to
    fit inside the bear box if you plan to head into bear
    country to avoid civilization.

Happy endings...
You will be happiest if you've been prepping the proper
amount of food. Pack well!

Related articles...

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